Ooh la la! (I was going to write that other snooty French expression but I can’t figure out how to transcribe nasal arrogance through text.) Today is National Crepe Suzette Day, a national food holiday that America, and in particular New York City, has really embraced over the past decade. Crepes, as we all know, are very thin pancakes that are folded with either sweet or savory fillings, like bananas, Nutella, or chopped meat and nuts. A signature French food, crepes have become popular in the United States in the past decade, spawning tons of creperies in the city, as well as food trucks dedicated solely to the light, elegant dish. Crepe Suzette, arguably the most famous variation of crepe, has been around since the late 19th century, and while its history is murky, the popular story behind its invention and name involve the Prince of Wales Edward VII, a young bus boy, and a French girl named Suzette. Whatever way the origin story goes, Crepe Suzette consists of crepe pancakes that are usually unfilled, and covered in a sweet sauce of sugar, butter, orange juice and zest, and Grand Marnier liqueur. The sauce is then set on fire, cooking out the alcohol in the Grand Marnier but leaving the flavor, and mixing everything together in a perfect blend. Meant to be flambed at the patron’s table, the Crepe Suzette is the showiest of the crepes and, consequently, one of the most popular.
The picture above does Pastis’s Crepe Suzette absolutely no justice. It’s obviously the “after” shot of the crepe, when it’s not alight with the blue-and-red flames of Grand Marnier going up right before your eyes to add the final piece to the dish’s recipe. But what the final product lacks in visual appeal it more than makes up for in taste. Made strictly according to tradition, Pastis makes their crepes–and their Crepe Suzette–fresh to order, and includes only the classic ingredients and elements to make your dining experience as close to a cafe in Brittany as possible. The butter and caramel sauce is rich and sweet without being too cloying, cut nicely by the tartness of the zest and the Grand Marnier. Unfortunately the flambe presentation isn’t done tableside–dumb American fire codes!–but you can appreciate the method in the crepe alone, tasting the finished product and experiencing the warmth of the crepe that you know came from a flambe. To accompany that warmth, especially on a warm day like today, it’s always nice to have something cold as well, and Pastis delivers with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to melt heavenly into the butter caramel sauce on your plate.
9 9th Ave (between Little W 12th St & 13th St)
“There’s not many places in the city where you can casually drop by for Crepes Suzette in the afternoon, but Pastis is one to remember. It’s a classic done well, with a rich, buttery caramelized sauce spooned over the duo of crepes folded into quarters. The flambé action doesn’t happen tableside, unfortunately, but you still get the results—a touch boozy with Grand Marnier. A single scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side is just a bonus.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“stopped into this joint with a friend, by word of a friend of a friend, who said “leave room for dessert.” so we did. after an odd concoction of toast, fried eggs and beans, which turned out to be delicious, we shared the crepe suzette. exquisite, indeed. such a delicate delight it was!”–Rosie L.
“We shared the Crepe Suzette, it was good and my GF said it was one of the best she has had since being in Europe.”–Charles P.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!